Daily Archives: September 16, 2020

Renewing a Sasieni 4 Dot Natural #4 Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a group of pipes that we purchased from fellow in Cornwall, Pennsylvania, USA.  The pipe is an interesting looking piece. It has a unique shape and certainly not one that I would readily identify as a Sasieni shape but it is! It is a smooth finished forward canted Volcano shaped pipe with some nice grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the topside of the shank and reads Sasieni [over] Two Dot [over] London Made. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 60 near the bowl and the rugby shaped Made in England COM stamp near the stem. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the briar. There were also to small pinholes in the right side of the mid bowl that are strange. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat flowing onto the top of the rim. The inside and outside edges looked to be in good condition but we would know more once Jeff had cleaned it. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were two light blue dots on the top of the oval saddle stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the lava on the rim top and inner beveled edge. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There looks like there may be some nice grain around the sides under the blah finish and grime. The stamping on the right and undersides of the shank are clear and readable and read as noted above.  The 4 light blue dots are visible in the photo below. I turned to Pipephil’s site and specifically the timeline for Sasieni that is included there to see when the Four Dot changed to 4 Dot (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/infos/sasieni-timechart.html).I have included a screen capture of the timeline below. From the time line I was able to learn that the 4 Dot stamping was introduced in the late 1980 – perhaps 1987. Thus I knew that I was not dealing with an earlier family period pipe but a newer one relatively speaking.

I turned then to Pipedia to focus in on that period and get an idea of where this pipe fit in the timeline and the hierarchy of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Sasieni). I found the section I was looking for in the article and have included it below. For more information on the brand be sure to read the full article.

…Somewhat later still, this was modified to reflect the finish, e.g. Four Dot Walnut, or Four Dot Natural. All these changes seem to have been made in the years between 1946 and 1950. Therefore a pipe with new style dots and old style stamping almost certainly has a replacement stem.

This system changed little if at all in the ensuing thirty years. When the company was sold in 1979, one of the first things the new owners did was to eliminate the town names from the shanks. The dots were enlarged yet further, and the Sasieni name, though still done in script, was larger, as was the rest of the shank nomenclature, which in all other ways was similar to the Pre-Transition nomenclature. While these pipes are not as collectible as the family made pipes, they were made with care and are high quality.

The nomenclature changed again in 1986, with the sale of the company to the Post-Transition firm. The three line nomenclature was changed to two lines, with the first reading “Sasieni 4 Dot” and the second identifying the finish, e.g. Natural, Walnut, or Ruff Root. Note how 4 Dot is spelled, using an Arabic numeral 4, as opposed to spelling out the word “four”. This is the easiest way to spot a Post-Transition Sasieni, as the new company has used both script and block lettering to spell the word “Sasieni” on the shank.

Now I knew I was working on a Post-Transition Sasieni made after 1986. It bore the Sasieni 4 Dot stamp and the second line Finish stamp – in this case Natural. It clearly differentiated this 4 Dot for the Four Dot pipes that I have worked on in the past.

Now on to working on the pipe. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl appear to be in good condition. The beveled inner edge also looked good. The stem surface looked good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.  There was also some remaining oxidation visible on the stem. The stamping on the left and underside of the shank is clear and readable and reads as noted above.    I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a saddle with 4 Blue dots on the left side.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I polished the repaired areas and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the flaws while visible look better than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks in the surface of the vulcanite. While I was able to life most of them a few remained on each side. I filled these in with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them out with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  It was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.       This Post-Transition Sasieni 4 Dot Natural Dublin is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The Natural finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Sasieni 4 Dot sits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring an E. Wilke N.Y.C.  Diamond Shank Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is a smooth, Diamond Shank Apple that was incredibly dirty. The grime on the finish pretty much obscured the grain around the bowl sides. There was a large amount of sand pits on the left side of the bowl. The grain around the bowl stands out clearly. Jeff and I picked this one up in the lot of 125+ Bertram pipes that bought from a fellow on the    East Coast. It was stamped on the left side of the shank. The stamping was readable. It read E. Wilke [over] NYC. There was no other stamping around the bowl and shank. It was in worn condition when he brought it to the table. The finish was dirty with grime ground into the briar sides and rim. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top and heavier on the backside. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had heavy tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe.  Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the beveled inner edge. It is heavily caked with a thick lava overflow (particularly on the back of the rim top). The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show grain that was around this bowl. It looks like it will be a nice looking pipe under the grime. There are a lot of flaws on the left side of the bowl. He took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above. I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Wilke) and checked out the listing for E. Wilke N.Y.C. I quote the article as a whole.

Edwin Wilke founded Wilke Tobacco in 1872. As the story goes, according to a 1937 New York World-Telegram article, he had no sons, and so he taught his two daughters, Anna and Louisa Wilke, how to make pipes and blend tobacco, and by his death in 1930 they were well versed in both trades, and adamant about only using quality briar. In 1950, when they were the focus of an article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, they were the only women pipe makers in the United States, and had sold pipes to Herbert Hoover, Lord Halifax, John Steinbeck and others. The sisters also blended pipe tobacco and repaired pipes. They did not, however, smoke pipes.

Wilke prided itself on “unpainted pipes”, and promised that only Macedonian briar was used, without paint, varnish, plug, or putty of any kind. As of 1950, some of their pipes were selling for up to $100.00, or just under $1,000.00 dollars today. By the release of a 1970 New York Magazine highlight of the shop, that claim had risen to $500.00, or over $3,000.00 today.

The Wilke Pipe Shop was located for decades on Madison Avenue in New York City, and in the 1970s opened a satellite store in the famed Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia, selling Wilke pipes made by Steven Johnson. In 1983, the brand was purchased by pipe maker Elliott Nachwalter and his wife, Carole Burns. They continued to operate the Madison Avenue store until the early 1990’s, at which point the couple moved to Vermont and Pipeworks & Wilke was born as a mail-order business.

Even after the marriage of Burns and Nachwalter, the business continued, with Nachwalter selling pipes in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Burns blending tobacco in Montpelier, Vermont. Burns continues to keep the 125 year old brand alive at http://www.vtpipes.com/.

As of July 1 2017 Wilke Tobacco was passed on to John Brandt of Fall River Ma. Where the Wilke blends will continue to be blended by hand to discerning customers all over the world http://www.wilkepipetobacco.com

I knew that I was dealing with a E. Wilke pipe made before 1990s when the shop in NYC closed and the company became an online business known as Pipeworks & Wilke. I also knew that the briar was Macedonian and that the flaws were leave as is without putty and the finish was natural. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. The stamping on the side of the stem was very light and the white that had remained was gone. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top and edges look good over all. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks on both sides near the button.      I took photos of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain around the bowl and shank.I decided to begin my work on the pipe be dealing with the flaws in the briar on the left side of the bowl. The first photo shows the flaws before I started working the area. The remaining photos in this section show the repair work and the result. I filled flaws in with briar dust and super glue. Once they cured I sanded the repaired area with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar. I finished by wet sanding with a 1500 grit micromesh pad to smooth out the area. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. It removed the remnant spots of varnish that were still on the shank end and back of the bowl. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.   I am excited to finish this E. Wilke NYC Diamond Shank Apple. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the bowls sides and rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This mixed grain on the smooth finish of the Diamond Shank Apple is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.